On Death & Dying

2001. Driving.
Throat constricting. Eyes watering. Tears welling.
Heart Breaking.
Cancer. Death.

2008. Phone ringing.
Words spoken. Throat constricting. Eyes watering. Tears Welling.
Heart Breaking.
Sudden Death.

2009. Driving.
Throat constricting. Eyes watering. Tears welling.
Heart Breaking.
Alzheimer's. Death.

2013. Sitting in a hospital room.
Words spoken. Jokes told. Love shared. Bad news all-round.
Heart Breaking.
Cancer. Dying.

Last night I saw my Aunty, my Mum's sister, for what is highly likely to be the last time. She's dying of pancreatic cancer. That fucking heinous disease, cancer, is taking yet another good, loved soul from this earth. Driving to the hospital last night I struggled to keep my emotions in check. Not just emotions about my Aunty. But long-held emotions for my Grandmother. My Grandfather. Emotions that despite the years can still well up and be just as strong as the day I first felt them, on the days that they died.

I can still remember the last time I saw Grandma. The last time I saw Grandpa. Those images of them in their hospital beds will be forever burned in to my mind. And now I am going to have another matching image to add to the collection.
The second last time I saw my Grandpa
Also visiting my Aunty last night was my Uncle, my Mum's brother. He's been fighting that fucking heinous disease, cancer, for the last 7 years. And last night he told us that he won't have to fight it much longer. He's now developed full-blown leukaemia and its just a matter of time. 6 months they say.

In 2008 a good friend of mine died suddenly in a car accident. I hadn't seen her in a while, in fact only a few days before-hand I had sent her a message on facebook saying that I missed her and I hoped we could catch up again soon. I have no idea if she ever read that message. I pray that she did, I hope she knows that I was thinking about her.

I can't decide which is worse. Sudden death or long, drawn-out death. A long, drawn-out death brings with it pain and deterioration. It's a terrible burden to bear, not only for the person suffering, but for their family as well. But there is at least the chance to say goodbye. The chance to make sure that they know you love them. Will think of them often. Will miss them greatly.
Grandma & Grandpa
With sudden death there is not usually pain for the dead. But there is more pain for those left behind. There's no time to prepare yourself for the loss (not that I think you can ever truly be prepared for the loss of someone you love), no time to say good bye, to make sure they knew that you loved them. Will think of them often. Will miss them greatly.

My heart is breaking for my Aunty's husband, for my Uncle's wife, for their children and grand-children. For my Mum and my other Aunty, who look to now lose both their sister and their brother in one year. Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, gone in the space of 12 years. My Mum said to me last night as we left the hospital "This isn't meant to happen. It's not meant to be like this." I couldn't imagine my life without my Mum & Dad and my brother and sisters and that is exactly what she is facing.
My Mum & Aunties & Uncle
When my Uncle told us his news there was a silence and then Mum said "Well. What do you say to that?". I said "It sucks. Hard.". My Uncle sighed and said that, while yeah it sucked, he was so thankful that he'd had so much time. He was first diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago. He was told a year ago that it would only be a matter of weeks before things progressed to full-blown leukaemia. Only it didn't. The cancer went on hold. For a year. Another year of life that he didn't think he would have. So in a way he is thankful.

We spoke about many things in the hospital last night but the words that stick in my mind the most are the words about being ready. That in the end, death can happen at any moment. To hold your family and friends close. Make the most of each and every day, hour, minute, second. Life is precious. And we need to be thankful for all of the time we get, no matter how long, or how short.
Thankful for these people
Today I'm thankful that I have been blessed with such a wonderful family, blessed with amazing friends. I'm thankful that I have the time, right now, to appreciate the things I have in my life, the people I love, those I hold dear. I'm thankful that despite the pain the people I love have gone through, are going through, they know that they are loved and they have family and friends who care a great deal for them, who will be by their sides right up until that end.

Don't take what you have for granted. Don't take your life for granted. Though there may be shit days, be thankful that you even get those days. Hold your loved ones close and tell them how much you care. How much you love them. That you think of them often. And miss them greatly when they're not there.

Linking this post up with Six by the Bay for Thankful Thursday.
Six By The Bay


Kylie Purtell said…
What a heart wrenching post. It is sad that the people we love have to die but it is something that we all have to come to terms with at some point in time. I don't know how I will manage when my parents die - we are so close I cannot imagine them not being here.
Sending heaps of love, hugs and positive energy at this time !
Kylie Purtell said…
Ah Kylie, there's too much sadness in the world isn't there. I'm so so sorry to hear about all the pain and sorrow your family are facing at the moment. I can read all the love that surrounds them and thank goodness you all support each other so much. I don't think anyone wants to face the reality of death, and I tend to find it easier not to confront, but obviously some years we're forced to. Here's to being thankful and thank god you've got beautiful people to fill your life with love and hugs during these low times. Pip xxx
Kylie Purtell said…
I lost my beautiful Aunt to cancer late last year - so vibrant and so much life to be lived and she wanted to live it. It is a hideous disease and it impacts on so many. We should certainly value what we have because we don't know what lies ahead. Thinking of you xo
Kylie Purtell said…
What a beautifully written post Kylez. I'm sorry your family is going through so much pain. We have been so lucky that cancer has only touched us once briefly but my sister in law survived her breast cancer. I am so close to my parents that I can't even imagine them not being here. Death is horrible. Sending you big hugs through cyberspace. V.
Kylie Purtell said…
Amen Kylie, with you all the way. My eldest is a walking miracle so I am always careful to be grateful for all I have.
Love and strength to you for the journey ahead. Hugs and thoughts for everyday. xxx
Kylie Purtell said…
Stopping by from a Thankful Thursday link up.

What a beautifully written post. Life is so very precious, too often we forget that.
Kylie Purtell said…
What a beautifully written and moving post. I'm in tears for you and your family. You are right, we can't take life for granted. I'm off to hug my children and call my mum... just to hear her voice. Thank-you for reminding me how important it is to do that. Sending you cyber hugs. x
Kylie Purtell said…
I'm so so so sorry to hear this is happening to your family. Praying you all will be strong and may they spend the rest if their days filled with love and all your company. Big hugs dear

Ai @ Sakura Haruka
Kylie Purtell said…
I hate knowing we wont get to spend any more time with them, or that we wont see them at family gatherings again. But I have the faith and knowledge that they know they are going to a better place, a place without suffering and a place filled with joy, spending it with their wonderful saviour, Jesus Christ, and that he made his sacrifice so that they can live with him in eternity and one day we will see them again. It is sad they are leaving early but God is calling them home and they both know that He loves them and will always be with them. Jesus overcame death 2000 years ago, for all of us!
Kylie Purtell said…
I have barely had any experiences with death. A lot of my extended family live overseas. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I never got to meet any of my grandparents. I'm saddened by that but feel lucky to have been on the Earth this long and not have had to lose a loved one...yet.

All the best for you family. A tough time I'm sure x
Kylie Purtell said…
Neither is pleasant to deal with and sometimes it takes a long time to recover from.
I lost my grandma 2 years ago yesterday and my Dad 2 months later.
I hope you find peace soon.
Kylie Purtell said…
Oh Kylie, I am sitting here crying for you and your family. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that was in that room with you. I hope you all can enjoy what time you have left together.
Kylie Purtell said…
It always seems to take the wrong people...
Kylie Purtell said…
Oh gosh Kylie, what a moving post. I don't think it matters whether it's a long drawn out situation or a sharp shock, it always hurts when it's someone you love. Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things we humans ever have to do.
Kylie Purtell said…
Kylie, you wrote this so eloquently and with such respect.
I'm sorry you've all had to go through so much. I need to show my parents I love them more. I don't do it enough.
Kylie Purtell said…
Tears Kylie. I completely understand your words. Your family look lovely and it is beyond horrendous when they are taken from us. I too have learned through heartache just how precious life and the people in it are. If we can teach others, then the ones we loved died with purpose. Big hugs hun, sounds like you are in for a rough season xxxxxxx
Kylie Purtell said…
Oh Kylie :( I HATE cancer and I HATE death. Thank you for reminding me that today I need to tell some people how much I love them xx
Kylie Purtell said…
I'm getting a little teary reading this. I am so sorry that your family is going through such a tough time right now. As much as it sucks, its the cycle of life. When one life finishes, another starts. Your new bubba will bring renewal, hope and joy. Love Brenda
BTW - Thanks for giving me a bit of perspective this morning.

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